Carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) is the best validated biomarker and an indicator of aberrant glycosylation in pancreatic cancer. CA19-9 functions as a biomarker, predictor, and promoter in pancreatic cancer. As a biomarker, the sensitivity is approximately 80%, and the major challenges involve false positives in conditions of inflammation and nonpancreatic cancers and false negatives in Lewis-negative Individuals. Lewis antigen status should be determined when using CA19-9 as a biomarker. CA19-9 has screening potential when combined with symptoms and/or risk factors. As a predictor, CA19-9 could be used to assess stage, prognosis, resectability, recurrence, and therapeutic efficacy. Normal baseline levels of CA19-9 are associated with long-term survival. As a promoter, CA19-9 could be used to evaluate the biology of pancreatic cancer. CA19-9 can accelerate pancreatic cancer progression by glycosylating proteins, binding to E-selectin, strengthening angiogenesis, and mediating the immunological response. CA19-9 is an attractive therapeutic target for cancer, and strategies include therapeutic antibodies and vaccines, CA19-9-guided nanoparticles, and inhibition of CA19-9 biosynthesis.Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.